- 1 Overview
- 2 The High History of House Gwydion
- 3 The Society of the Gwydion
- 3.1 On Intrigues
- 3.2 Matters Seelie & Unseelie
- 3.3 Gatherings & Camps
- 3.4 The Escheat
- 3.5 The Fostering
- 3.6 On Birthrights
- 4 Rivals & Allies
- 5 Current Affairs
- 6 Lords & Ladies of the Falcon
- 7 References
House Gwydion is perhaps the most "noble" of all the houses. While other houses retreated to Arcadia long ago, the Gwydion sidhe chose to face the Sundering head-on. They believe that their lord and founder has been reborn again and again as a noble sidhe. He is said to have been resurrected as a paladin serving Charlemagne and a major-general serving Napoleon. Rivals swear that he must have aided Machiavelli as well.
Members of the house are conservative, duty-bound Kithain who place the well-being of their fiefs above their own. Unfortunately, they let everyone else know this. Their rule is often marked by extreme arrogance, and they categorically state that only members of their house are fit to rule. From there, each Gwydion proceeds to state that they are more fit than their brethren. The internecine feuds that result can only be halted by one thing: a threat from outside the house. The members then band together to prove the superiority of House Gwydion. When the threat end, it's back to business as usual.
Their anger, like their rivalry, is legendary. When confronted with something that offends their honor, they have been known to go berserk. Furthermore, when fae of the house are presented with a rival they cannot overcome, they become Unseelie until they can find a way (any way, no matter how base) in which they can triumph. Once triumphant, they return to their typical Seelie arrogance.
The Ways of House Gwydion
The libraries of the sidhe suffered greatly during the Shattering, and today the greatest portion of their lore comes from old ballads, ancient tales, and, of course, the occasional scraps remembered from the Dreaming itself. For a newly Sained noble of House Gwydion to learn the full and truest ways of the House of the Falcon would be a long, exacting task.
Lords Among Lords
First, you should understand that the Gwydion have been born to no life of luxury. True, they enjoy the privileges of station; however, they are forever bound to a sacred duty, one that has its roots in the beginning of all things, the Mythic Age. They are the ruling house among the Seelie fae, and tradition demands that they rule well and wisely. They are the house of the summer sun, the falcon, the griffon, the lords of high summer. The vibrancy of their rule staves off Winter, and their light is necessary to give their subjects hope. They lead by right and example. They cannot fail in this, for if they do, all is lost. All of Concordia, Europa... even the entire Dreaming, they dare say... the welfare of all of this rests on their shoulders. And in then name of their High Lord, the are worthy of such a task.
Just ask them.
The High History of House Gwydion
The tale of this noble house stretches back to the Mythic Age, in the rolling hills of a cool, green land. the Tuatha de Danaan still walked the hills in those days, and in their footsteps came great heroes. Those lands are called Cymru, and any learned person once could tell you the story of Math Mathonwy and his sister's son Gwydyon. Times are different now and the tale has changed much since it first fell on mortal ears.
The Tale of Gwydion
For more on the founding of House Gwydion, see the article Gwydion the Grey.
The tales of Gwydion, Keredwyn, and the 300 cannot be recounted here, though court historians still recall their names and claims to glory. What concerns us most is that these 300 rode, ran, and flew forth, and they brought justice and valor with them wherever they traveled. They were more than heroes now, the were a band of brothers and sisters, and within a generation or so, they were more.
They took the badge of the falcon, the shape Gwydion himself had learned only after he knew nobility. They placed an oak leaf in its beak, to signify strength. They colored it with gold for honor, and they set it on a field of green for the cool hills of Cymru. As for their name, well, none other would do. From that time on, they were known as House Gwydion, and they were the foremost among the champions of the lowly and unfortunate.
Life in the Sundering
The golden times ended when the Sundering came, and the worlds of flesh and dream were torn apart. It was a terrible blow to all fae, and as in all times of war, the Gwydion were forced to be stronger for the sake of the others. Only a fool couldn't tell that everything had changed. The house, long accustomed to the role of knight-errant, recognized a new responsibility. They had walked previously the lands of others. Now it was necessary for them to claim lands as their own and to guard these holdings against the depredations of the lost and desperate.
One must remember that they did not do this out of lust for power. When one seeks lands, holdings, or title, one must do so because one believes themself worthy of such honors, not because they crave their due. That which one deserves, one shall receive eventually. So it was with the Gwydion. They were prepared to assume responsibility of rulership for the first time, and they did so out of love for the land and its people. And they proved themselves strong enough to rule and protect their lands justly.
So they took holdings for the first time and learned to rule. They made mistakes in governing of their first fiefs, as anyone might, but as time passed, House Gwydion found itself well-suited to the role of leader. They began to rule by example and others followed in their wake. That was when Lord Gwydion himself came to the house for the last time. Tales say that he was present for the coronation of the first High King ever to rule and that he made a present out of a pair of huge grey griffons to the new lord. If ever doubt claims the heart of your subjects, he said, let them look to the griffons, who will be the heralds of the true High King.
And so it was and so the house continued. The Sundering was a harsh thing, but they adapted; they showed others how to survive. They thrived in the last years of those times. Alas, had they only been able to see the even worse calamity approaching: The Shattering.
The Shame of Gwydion
Of all the times the House faced, the Shattering was the worst by all accounts. I cannot say how or where it first began, but a great leaden sea of Banality flowed slowly across all lands. Unlike the true sea, though, it would not ebb. Many lords of the house fought against this tide, and not one was able to win. They drew their strength from the very heart of the Dreaming, but it was worthless against the terrible flood of despair that would not cease.
The order from the High King arrived at last: The houses were to gather themselves together and retreat to Arcadia, where they might have the time to arrive at a solution to the terrible threat. They could not disobey.
To this day, many of the house consider this their greatest failure. They did what they could; they fought to help as many commoners as possible across the worlds and into Arcadia. They were oathbound to do no less. When a lord succumbed and had to be taken into the Dreaming, his liegemen were bound to follow. But they could only save a certain number, so they failed many. This shame burns in the breast of each of them to this day, and it angers them terribly to think of failing a second time.
Court bards still tell of valiant members who cared so much for the welfare of their subjects that they refused the call, instead remaining behind to face their banal dooms. I believe that there must be truth to at least one of these stories, although other evidence of such pariahs is lacking. No, the far greater part of the house returned to Arcadia, and of the time spent there, even Thomas the Rhymer can say little.
Obviously, those of House Gwydion cannot speak with any authority on the times between their departure and return. How infuriating that their lore should be incomplete by six centuries. Only those who stayed can speak of the Interregnum with accuracy, and legend holds that of House Gwydion, there were only three. One was a doughty baroness who defied the High King's wishes for the welfare of her people. Another was a masterless knight whose only oath was to his love, a commoner. The third was Lord Gwydion, according to the tales.
It's said by some that Gwydion the Grey spent many of the years between not as a lord, but as a wanderer. As he had so many years before, he traveled to the courts of humanity's greatest warriors and learned statecraft and warfare from the finest generals and leaders of the time. Many wish to believe it true; that the memories of the mortal world are still unbroken in their founder's heart, wherever he may be. Some also fear, too, that even Gwydion may not have survived six centuries of Banality. It's a question few wish to have answered.
Return of the Griffin
But as it is, most sidhe memories begin again only at the time of the Resurgence. They cannot even remember exactly why it is that they returned when the gates opened. However, knowing their own hearts as they do, they have a few guesses. The truth is likely that they returned of their own volition, to defend the other houses, and so they did, through one of the worst wars in all fae history.
The memories of the Accordance War bring pain to anyone who was alive in those times. It is enough to know that House Gwydion was always at the spearhead of the War, and that they were witness to enough atrocities. When they arrived in the modern world, they knew that the enemies of their long-lost subjects would be many and terrible, and so they were ready to fight. They hadn't expected the enemy to be their subjects themselves.
House Gwydion sided with the other houses in the Accordance War, and most of their soldiers fought to unify the fae. All of the old traditions had been forgotten, and this infuriated far too many Gwydion warriors. Although many heroes rose from their ranks, this was a time of shame more than anything. So many of their own behaved in a manner completely unsuited to their duties and abused their strength exactly as they were charged not to do. Toward the end, it seemed that many of the sidhe fought from desperation rather than strength of purpose.
It was an ugly, ugly war, and up until the last, it still seemed as though an end would never come. They hoped and they knelt in prayer with their swords... it seemed that only one thing would deliver them from strife. What was needed was a king.
The Rise of High King David
You have already heard the tales... how True Thomas found David and set him on the throne. With David came Concordia; the land reunited. As with the best of Gwydion lords before him, David established a just rule and has exemplified their highest ideals since then. They could not ask for a more just or gracious High King and House Gwydion has loyally served him since.
It wasn't long after the end of the Accordance War, though, that the Gwydion nobles took note of another struggle. They were a house of warriors, you see. As such, they are ill-at-ease without a crusade or an opponent. Thankfully, the modern era has provided no shortage of adversaries; the new-found strength of the Shadow Court is the least proof.
Today, it is a great struggle simply to endure. The tug of Banality on the souls of the sidhe is ore akin to the pull of the vast ocean than the river's current it once was. For many sidhe, merely surviving this battle is thought of as a great victory.
Not so for House Gwydion.
If mere survival were the stuff of honor and legend, then surely the sidhe of House Liam would be the greatest among them. The trials they have brought upon themselves are numerous and terrible, and yet they still exist. Why not crown them the noblest among nobles, and look to them for guidance?
Because survival is not enough. It is not fitting for warriors and kings to huddle behind rocks as Winter approaches, hoping that the bitter winds will not seek them out.
These fae, though, are House Gwydion. They are the lion, the falcon, the knights of summer. They will take their battle into the throat of Winter itself; they will free their people into a grand new Spring. Come what may, they will not fail again.
The Society of the Gwydion
Houe Gwydion has adapted fully to the government structures that are expected of them... the concepts of "king" or "duke" are not ones that they invented, but they will wear such honors nonetheless. As such, their first and foremost loyalty is to the High King. In Concordia, this mean David Ardry.
Of course, David must remain largely impartial. Although his word is certainly law in house matters, he cannot be expected to spend his time regulating Gwydion affairs as well as those of all Concordia. Therefore, the house takes most of its orders from the High Lord, who rules in the place that Gwydion himself would take if he were active. As such, Gwydion oaths of fealty currently bind them to High Lord Ardanon, and it is his will that they serve.
However, although his rule is unquestioned, Ardanon is not a constant master. His rulings are infrequent; he trusts the house to govern their own affairs responsibly and justly. And one should always remember this: the wrath of a High Lord is not something you care to incur.
Although the house has adopted the trappings and titles that the other fae find most familiar, they still remember how things once were. Even today, many Gwydion nobles refer to their holdings by the traditional name of cantrevs. True, the word connotes a domain of any size, rather than the one hundred homesteads of old, but the term is one of pride to them... one that speaks of a better time.
There are a hundred forms of proper trial among the fae and House Gwydion may use any of them. Most commonly, they weigh the offender's mettle in the Fior. Mere strength is not enough for the Fior, as house sorcerers use scrying to test the purity of the accused's purpose. Few can maintain their deceptions under such circumstances.
The Gwydion value justice and are willing to exact whatever punishment or compensation seems fair. A criminal is rarely executed with iron, and then only if they have proven themself an irredeemable threat to the Dreaming and its subjects. If a person stands wrongly accused, they may demand compensation of the accuser, if it can be proved that they were charged from malice and not from mistake. The house does not revel in punishments, nor do the prize mercy above justice... they seek only what is fair.
As the House of honor, they have originated many of the common oaths of purpose and they uphold them with great reverence. When they swear oaths to fellows of their house, however, they often use other oaths. A Gwydion must be prepared to swear by their personal honor if need be. Even more serious is the oath taken on the honor of their fellow knights' and lords' names. It is one thing to dishonor oneself if the need is undeniable; it is inexcusable to dishonor ones brothers and sisters of the Falcon.
The most terrible oath anyone of the house may swear is by the honor of Lord Gwydion himself, of Lady Keredwyn, or of the first 300 nobles of the house. The naming of these, their forebears, is a most sacred vow. Those who swear this oath complete their promises or die trying.
House Gwydion conducts its affairs in the open, rather than in shadow. They have little to hide. However, do not assume that they are unskilled in the ways of intrigue; it is a weapon like any other. Most secret dealings within the house involve the aforementioned challenges of honor, or obtaining the right to challenge. An affair may begin in shadow months before it is resolved under the sun.
Nonetheless, a Gwydion noble is still more likely to encounter intrigues set in motion by the members of other noble houses. Their eye for truth and falsehood is well-known to other houses. A sparse few are careless enough to lie to a Gwydion's face as a result... they worm about for other ways of cloaking their machinations and spying out secrets.
One should always be careful of trysting with the Fiona, for they are fondest of extracting secrets in the bedchamber. Know that the Dougal are typically fair-dealing, but they are not above adding particular clauses to their contracts in order to obtain an advantage. Beware the mortal allies of the Liam, for even the most insensible human may be an extra pair of ears for a rival. And, of course, trust the Eiluned little or not at all ini everything they do. They delight in deception and unethical politicking and will attempt to gain influence over others by whatever means they may.
Serpent Tongued Falcons (another perspective)
And what of intrigues within the house of high summer itself? Tcha, my friend, there are far more than you might think. Even the most proudly starched knight in green and gold may dabble in a touch of mendacity here and there. To be sure, they much prefer settling their matters at tourney... far easier to keep track of winners and losers... but you'd be a fool to think the Gwydion don't deign to dip into their own intrigues now and then.
Not just any affair will be suitable to start a falcon to double-speak and careful slippings-about, oh no. Only three things tend to set the in such circular motions: love, sovereignty, and the Unseelie dance. By "love" I don't mean the suitor under the window, singing paeans to his dearly-desired lily until she opens her petals. No, the Gwydion are open enough about their affairs of the heart, unless the lady or lad in question is what one would consider dubious. By that, I mean Eiluned fae, commoners of almost all sorts (the house frowns on the larder guards snacking, if you know what I mean), and the rare tryst with a sympathetic Unseelie. I tell you, when fire meets ice, the steam is something fierce!
Sovereignty is easy enough to understand, but know that a Gwydion is more likely to support covertly a friend's reign than their own. They make honest lords and don't usually have any fears of telling an enemy off to their face. And as for the last, well, if you found yourself drifting to the shadow in the house of golden light, would you care to advertise it? That old rival would have a fine new reason to demand satisfaction!
So how do they go about it with their raptor's eye for the truth and all? Well, I probably don't have to tell you that many of them quickly master the half-truth. When the duke asks you, "Where have you been?" and you reply, "I've been searching out Ysbaddaden's Spear," perhaps you would've been more truthful if you had added, "but for the last day I've been in the arms of your seneschal." As long as you've honestly been searching out that spear, you're telling the perfect, if not complete, truth. Of course, the Gwydion know measure and countermeasure to such things. It may be a fool-proof technique, but there aren't so many fools among the falcons that you should ever get comfortable.
Oh, but please don't go repeating this! It may be an unspoken and even accepted practice among the house, but woe, woe if you ask a Falcon to admit it! For that would be a slap to their honor, sure enough, and they get so terribly angry when that happens!
Matters Seelie & Unseelie
The Gwydion are, and always have been, a Seelie house. The concepts of responsibility, of Noblesse Oblige, such traits can be found only among the courts of spring and summer. They uphold the Seelie reverence for life and light and are unwilling to compromise such an important ideal.
One cannot stress how vital the welfare of their vassals is to the honor of the House. Gwydion himself exacted terrible punishments against those who violated their trust and abused their subjects. Bear that in mind. Should a Gwydion decide to pluck the fairest of their subjects into their own bedchamber for sport, or levy draconian taxes of dross on those unable to pay, the horrible wrath of Gwydion will surely come upon them. A lord must serve as well as be served.
The Seelie Code
Although the Gwydion are self-appointed enforcers of the Escheat, and the majority are unmistakably Seelie, they tend to cleave less literally to the Seelie Code. If given a choice between honor and art, most Gwydion chose honor. Some pick honor even over true love; the Lancelot-esque legend of the knight compromising duty to be with their paramour is not a common theme in Gwydion ballads. Nonetheless, the house as a whole upholds the Seelie Code in the rigorous, chivalric manner for which it is notorious.
- Death Before Dishonor
It is said that a Gwydion poet was the first to recite the Seelie Code and that he was the one to place this tenet first. The thought of turning away from one's responsibilities for simple self-preservation sickens Gwydion fae. Rather than surrender or flee, a Gwydion falls into one of the House's infamous rages. Better to be cut down in a final berserk battle than to slink off to an honorless defeat.
Afraid, No. I'm certain that the 20 of you will cut me down. The thought doesn't please me, but neither does it frighten me. I'm sworn to defend this post, and I'll damn well see how many of you I can drag down with me before I fall. Who's first? - Squire Kelyn Oakspear
- Love Conquers All
All but personal dishonor, that is. Although still sidhe, and still prone to sweeping affairs of the heart, it's a fair bet to say that the Gwydion sidhe have the greatest percentage of tragic lovers who will not compromise their duty for their paramours. The heroic love affair of Gwydion and Keredwyn is the romantic ideal of many nobles of the Falcon: One man, one woman, one quest. Of course, this has a positive side to it, as well. When a Gwydion sidhe promises their love, they usually prove loyal as a well-fed hound. And when the unyielding knight finally lets their passion free, it can be an overwhelming torrent that would make even the most vibrant Fiona blanch. But the Gwydion noble who falls in love with the unattainable lover often strives to kill their own passion rather than fulfill it.
No. That is past. Once, long ago, he and I shared many a beautiful hour, and we drank in the delight of each other's company like satyrs in a winery. Then he turned to the shadow and embraced the Winter within him. At that time, he died to me. Do not speak his name again. - Baron Ciaran of Caer Tenvines
- Beauty is Life
Ever the most conservative of houses (for whatever it's worth), the Gwydion see this as yet another charge to protect artists from Ravagers, rather than viewing it as a call to foster artistic visions in themselves. Gwydion fae make better patrons than artists; their pursuit of excellence is dedicated to "practical" affairs like swordplay rather than poetry or sculpture. Some Falcons seek to lighten their burdens with artistic pursuits, but it is an unspoken rule of the house that the Gwydion must be ready to do the unpleasantness of fighting so that others might have time to pursue beauty.
It's a most flattering portrait, your Grace; more beautiful than my poor face, I daresay. Had I a keep, I should be delighted to display it proudly. However, I must ask you to cherish it for me, for I am a wanderer and ill-suited to care for it in the manner that such a work of art deserves. Thank you, my lord. I must be going. - Lady Kelemon, wandering knight
- Never Forget a Debt
Not surprisingly, the Gwydion more frequently interpret this as a code of vengeance or noblesse oblige than otherwise. The Falcons do indeed honor their debts, even to their enemies, but the zealously avoid incurring such debts. The Gwydion are stubbornly opposed to owing any Unseelie a favor, and many would rather choke than let an Eiluned even offer the Heimlich Maneuver.
You have safely escorted my chamberlain out of Baron Schaden's territory. For that I thank you and grant you this pouch of dross. Catch! You also have filled my chamberlain's ears along the journey with base slander about myself, my friends, and our affairs together. For that... on guard! - Baroness Adoin Fireplait
The tradition of the olden days granted equal power, and equal reign, to both Seelie and Unseelie fae. To the Seelie belonged the spring and summer and to the Unseelie the autumn and winter, and the crown was always passed freely. Although neither court enjoyed fully the reign of its rival, at least the arrangement was honorable.
Those were better times, however. In recent years, the Unseelie have grown more sinister than childling threats of shadow and scorpions. They are no longer merely a dark reflection... they are something else. Their breath stinks of sickness, and their souls seem decayed within their hollow skins. Nowhere is this taint more evident than in the Thallain; the changelings whose selves are irretrievably lost to the role of ogre, goblin, monster. No Seelie is capable of casting away their Unseelie nature; and yet these Unseelie have divested themselves of all that is fair and joyous. Forever.
The Seelie do not have the luxury of tolerating them. The other houses may laugh nervously and dismiss their ever-bloodier antics as "expected," but the Gwydion know better. They have stepped across a border from which there is no return, and unless they wish to see all of the Dreaming warped forever into the Nightmare Realms once more, the Gwydion must offer the Unseelie no compromise and no quarter. They have already begun a war, one that the other houses refuse to see and so help the Gwydion, they must win.
The Falcon in Shadow
Regrettably, all Gwydion must understand that not all battles are fought with sword and helm. The balance between light and dark in their souls is a difficult one, and with rare exceptions they cleave to the light. There are enough Unseelie in the world without the Gwydion adding to their ranks.
But they all have felt the pull from time to time; must only succumb when they are alone. Many times, only great tragedy shifts a Gwydion into the shadows. All all other times, they must be models of chivalry. As such, the struggle to remain Seelie and not let the Unseelie conquer their souls is nothing more than another battle, and they are well versed in battle, my friend.
They will not let their ignoble half destroy the welfare of their companions and subjects in the name of honoring some ancient "compact." The balance has been skewed and there is no need to honor a poisoned, broken, blasphemous contract. If the Unseelie will be eternal darkness, Gwydion will gladly meet them with unyielding light. - Duchess Gwynn Alarch of Caer Bluetrees
Gatherings & Camps
It is hardly and appealing concept that there are secretive groups in the house of high summer, but there are nonetheless. In some cases, a noble's membership in such a society is common knowledge, but it's tactfully not mentioned. In others, well, judge for yourself.
The Iron Paladins
For more on this this group see the article Iron Paladins.
The Red Branch
It is unfortunate that as noble a group as the Knights of the Red Branch is still treated with cloak-and-dagger secrecy. If tradition dictates that their affairs be spoken of lightly, then so be it. However, this much can be said: Their values are twin to House Gwydion's, and their staunch bravery is beyond reproach. If there are nobles to be found in the other houses that Gwydion would claim as their own, they have likely been claimed already by the Red Branch. Gwydion offers their support and hospitality to this peerless order, and many of their own lords and ladies encourage their households to strive for admittance. The house has often petitioned that the order join with them fully, to better administer justice across the lands. The Branch has always politely refused on the pretense that they wish to retain impartiality. Considering how the two groups have the same goals, many Gwydion hope they change their policy.
The Beltaine Blade
The Beltaine Blade is a scurrilous and dangerous group, and yet House Gwydion cannot deny that they have their ties among them. They have many supporters among the lords who feel that power should be distributed to those most suited to rule, those who are closer to their subjects. However, the Blade's desire to empower the feudal nobles is a strike in the face of the High King, one House Gwydion cannot ignore. Depose a truly rightful ruler in the hopes that many rulers might do even as well? Not as long as House Gwydion stands!
The nobles of House Gwydion must know the word and spirit of these rules well, for they can trust no others to enforce the as vigorously as they do. The Escheat is their meat and drink, and they have gladly accepted its keeping as their duty
The Right of Demesne
Perhaps it is more the influence of the more anarchic Americas, but the lack of respect for this edict is widespread throughout Concordia. How readily many commoners expect the House to fulfill their obligations as liege lords, yet how reluctant to accept their judgements when they gain little from a just ruling. One cannot rule effectively unless all are willing to observe the Right of Demesne. As in Arcadia, so it is here.
Who is this popinjay that comes swaggering into my hall as if it were his own, and who has the audacity to revile my edicts as he pleases? Sirrah, if you do not understand respect, I shall make certain your vocabulary is expanded this evening! One side, guards... the right to school this wretch is mine! - Baroness Adoin Fireplait
The Right to Dream
Inviolate! The fae are nothing without the Dreaming. House Gwydion must protect it as they would their own subjects. No Ravaging is ever to go unpunished, and they must act to enforce this tenet even when others do not. Many Gwydion knights proclaim that the Right to Dream is yet one more reason to take the fight directly and unrelentingly to the Unseelie. While it is inadvisable to begin war on this cause alone, it is important to keep utmost vigilance in any cantrev.
What kind of idiot do you have to be to abuse this law? What sort of misbegotten fool lets Ravagers walk the streets freely, devouring dreamstuff however they chose? Their summer feast will lead to a harvest season famine! Who will come with me to set this matter right? - Squire Kelyn Oakspear
The Right of Ignorance
This is often overlooked by fae, much to the House's consternation. Yes, the Right of Ignorance is painfully easy to enforce, yet that does not necessarily mean to ignore this tenet entirely. The Gwydion are often the only voices raised in opposition to freely enchanting mortals and letting kinain wander as they do through their lands. If one is to defend all fae in this time of need, one must place their welfare above that of the rank-and-file of humanity.
Mortals come and mortals go. It would be wasted effort to dog their every moment hoping to stumble across the one in a hundred that might threaten the Right of Ignorance. Pah! The rare mortal that can unravel the mysteries of Glamour is too dangerous to roam free anyway. Forget the prevention and administer the cure forthwith. - Sir Tagamarch Ebonnails
The Right of Rescue
House Gwydion is typically first among rescuers when this tenet is invoked. To be sure, the results are most perilous endeavors, but they cannot let a subject fall into Banality and remain unchallenged by house law. Such a thing would be wrong, and their fellow house members know that.
Oh, Sir Palsimir? Yes, milord. He and his satyr companion, last I saw, were still staring at the walls inside St. Anselm's. I regret to say that there was nothing my band could do to aid him... we were forced to leave the hospital before our own seemings were lost. I shall send a letter of apology to House Ailil, if you like. - Sir Tethych Arrowblood
The Right of Safe Haven
The Gwydion naturally see the wisdom in this charge, even if other, more selfish lords do not. As sworn defenders of all fae, they find themselves having to be the one in charge of freeholds, the better to ensure that the worthy and desperate are not turned away in their hour of need. It is yet another duty, and it grows wearisome at times, but it cannot be ignored.
I understand your plea, my friends. however, I am sorrowful to say that I cannot allow you entry into my home. Word of your deeds against Count Harwyn has travelled quickly, and I regret to inform you that Harwyn and I are steadfast comrades. You have 15 seconds to remove your boots from the floors of my halls... step lively, or my wyverns will have those elegant sashes for their nests. - Duchess Gwynn Alarch
The Right of Life
Even if this were not part of the Escheat, it would be implied by House Gwydion's code of conduct. It is only fair and chivalrous to offer our enemies enough leniency as is feasible. After all, had Math Mathonwy not granted clemency to Gwydion himself, the Dreaming would lack its most relentless protectors. It is no secret that the Gwydion rely on dueling as a matter of settling disputes and that these duels aren't commonly fought to first blood; wars are rarely ended by one artful strike, and their talents run toward the long battle. However, anyone base enough to draw cold iron on another fae in the Gwydion household will face immediate and terrible justice. They are unforgiving in such matters.
Hold your sword with a little more confidence than that, lad. Come now, don't you want to strike me down? Listen to me, boy... I'm giving you the chance to fight like a noble before I end this. If that were an iron blade in your hand, you can be sure you'd be dashed to the cobbles by now. But seeing as how you're threatening me fairly, I'll give you the chance to take defeat with a little dignity. There. That's it, lad. now, steel yourself! - Dirmyg the Sharp, grump guard-captain
Whenever another changeling undergoes the Chrysalis in a Gwydion cantrev, it is cause for both celebration and solemnity. Yes, their duty has expanded by a subject, but at the same time, another fae soul has blossomed, and this is always joyous. When the signs indicate that another Gwydion has come into their own, the house is quick to act. There is no time to lose.
The seers look deeply into the Dreaming, to search out whatever true name the fledge bears. A fledge could even prove to be one of the Three Hundred reborn; the lord of the household would throw a lavish celebration on such an auspicious occasion. Since the Resurgence, sadly, not one of the Three Hundred has reappeared, at least not to my knowledge. This should not be seen as hopeless, though. Should one of the first forebears reappear, they would certainly wish to keep their identity a secret, lest the sorcerers of the Unseelie recognize the true name of an old foe.
Most often, the ruler of a cantrev or another noble of their household acts as guardian. There are simply too few of them these days for it to be otherwise. If the court is primarily Gwydion, then several nobles may volunteer for guardianship. Most typically, the lord grants custody of the fledge to the master-at-arms or guard captain, who ensures the fledge's safety and sees to their training.
As to actual training, tradition holds that a noble be well-versed in many arts, both militant and courtly. Some amount of martial training is almost always enforced, and they tend to assign such learning a higher priority. The foremost house of warriors cannot let its blades go to rust; the same holds true for their skills. House tradition also dictates that fledges know the basics of house lore, although the custom of learning the names of the Three Hundred has fallen by the wayside. An aspiring Gwydion should also know the rules of governing and chivalry, and all must learn the Escheat and Seelie Code by heart.
Once the guardian deems the young one ready for their full duty as a Gwydion, they call for the seers, requesting the attendance of Neighboring Gwydion nobles as well. This is the time of the Fior-Righ.
House Gwydion never holds the Fior-Righ indoors; it is always to be performed on natural earth and under trees, preferably at the height of summer. There the fledge must prove their pluck and character to the satisfaction of the house. There area number of challenges levied on the fledge at this point, from blindfolded sword dances to riddle games to lie-guessing. (This latter is often the most important; if the fledge bears the boon of truth, there can be little doubt remaining.) However, the traditional final challenge is for the fledge to face their guardian in non-lethal combat. This can be a duel with mock swords, a wrestling challenge, or even a test of sorcery, but they enact this ritual combat to honor Lord Gwydion and his formation of the house. The fledge is expected to lose; after all, the guardian has the advantage of experience and skill. The true measure of the youngling is taken by watching they comport themself during the ritual. If they fight fairly and well, and accept loss gracefully, then they are accepted as a Gwydion. If they use underhanded tactics or are afraid to undergo the Fior-Righ, it is a bad sign. If they actually defeat their guardian in combat, then further auguries are called for... for certainly this new fledge is exceptional.
Although the fae of House Gwydion are as varied in personality as any group of people, their common threads of disposition tend to stem from their birthrights. A Gwydion noble can be brave, cowardly, loving, cold, gregarious, withdrawn... however, only the rarest of them are serene. The house itself does not recognize formally its innate tendency toward fury, although few members deny their short tempers to themselves. (Heaven help the unfortunate who asks them to admit to their rages out loud, though!)
Why is this? Where does such anger come from? None can say, and no theories are on record within the house. Historians of other houses say that the Gwydion fae value their honor with such ferocity because they are under constant pressure to justify their worth. Others privately smirk that the members' bestial ages ultimately come from the time that Gwydion himself spent as a beast.
Whatever the combination, it is no surprise that the famed arrogance of Gwydion nobles is probably born from pride fused with anger. Add to this the trick of deciphering falsehood from truth, and it is even less of a wonder that house members learn to trust themselves as the ultimate judges of right and wrong. Even the most compassionate and tender Gwydion sidhe has such pride in their house's deeds that they contest any challenge to their honor.
But apart from that, they're a pretty varied lot, and even the wickedest Gwydion blackguard usually has at least one commendable character trait. In fact, although many outsiders grumble to themselves about the stereotypical "bull-headed Gwydion prig," they have also grown used to (and even taken for granted) the equitable and generous nature of the house. If the Gwydion fae were to suddenly lose their fair-mindedness and honor that they value so highly, it's easy to imagine the hue-and-cry that would follow.
With a successful Perception + Kenning roll, members of House Gwydion can sense if someone is telling the truth; the difficulty is the subjects Willpower. For some reason (perhaps by an ancient pact), members of House Eiluned are immune to this.
Although they are great warriors, sidhe of this house are prone to great rages, Whenever they reach the Wounded Health Level (from either chimerical or physical damage), or when their honor is insulted, they must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 5). Those who fail fly into a berserk rage and attack anyone near them, ally or enemy. While berserk, they ignore all Health Level penalties until they reach Incapacitated.
Rivals & Allies
While there is much to learn about the house itself, every lord knows that one cannot govern solely from within. To take one's rightful place as a member of the house, one must be prepared to meet the other houses and kith... and if needed, even the Prodigals... from a position of strength.
On the Exiled Houses
Gwydion's allies, and yet, those whom they must guard most carefully against. They gladly let the other houses in their walls, as hospitality and honor dictate. But they also beware the occasional viper in the colors of a friend; it is easiest to strike lethally from within an opponent's guard. Judgement should be used when choosing companions.
- Dougal: The Dougal are first among Gwydion's allies and supporter. The house has enjoyed their goodwill since the Resurgence and the two houses are more closely bound than any other two. Indeed, the heir to high King David's throne is a Dougal, but at the same time, an honorary Gwydion. Dougal's endeavors are forthright, which is most respectable. Their counsel is well-reasoned and usually unimpaired by undue emotion. They quietly build good works as the Gwydion openly strike down foul designs. They devote their efforts toward administration rather than rule, and House Gwydion gladly plays their opposite. The Dougal are an excellent counterpart and complement to Gwydion ways. If they have a failing, it is that their craft surpasses their art, but this failing is a small thing to Gwydion.
- Eiluned: It is problematic to speak of house dealings with House Eiluned in a purely objective manner. These spiders are forever creeping into Gwydion courts, attempting to probe oh-so-quietly at their armor for chinks. And I have no doubt that if they found a tender patch of skin, they would sink their envenomed fangs into it forthwith. There are few instances in memory in which this house willingly offered a Gwydion aid. As said, objectivism is difficult. Yes, Gwydion's duties demand that they work with them and protect them as they would any Seelie fae, and they willingly do so, but to trust them with their hearts and charges? That is left to the judgement of the ruler, and they must review the facts of the matter at hand. What of the general matters between the two houses? The facts are: The Eiluned are Gwydion' rivals, and they are those most often to challenge their right to rule, as well as their very judgment. The Eiluned are dissemblers, and even the Gwydion must rely on guesswork to judge whether their statements are true or elaborate fictions. The Eiluned area accepting of the Unseelie among their ranks and have been known to go so far as to entertain various treaties with the Ailil, Balor, and Leanhaun. No further elaboration is needed.
- Fiona: The record of House Fiona speaks for itself, and it is certainly commendable in most cases. Fearless to the last, they are Gwydion's rivals for being closest to preeminence among warriors. There is no other house Gwydion would rather fight beside. However, the Fiona sidhe will be ruled by their hearts, and they long for petty pleasures and flighty romances more than they do for true purpose. They follow hungrily trends among human society, and they try to be at the forefront of all trends among the fae courts as well. As such, their lack of discipline makes them less than ideal governors. A Gwydion should conduct themself with courtesy in their domains, and grant them the respect they deserve; stand proudly beside them on the field of valor, and ready themself to stand alone in their courts when distractions draw them undoubtably from their side.
- Liam: The Liam have a certain wisdom, almost in spite of their history of poor choices. Some say they are hardly sidhe anymore; that years of consorting with mortals have dulled their blood. They can't be expected to honor an oath, so it is advisable not to swear with a Liam. But even if they had only one-tenth the nobility they once possessed, they would still be fae. There is little glory left to the once-proud Liam, yet they are still Gwydion's cousins, and the Falcons treat them with all the honor that implies. House Gwydion has no particular ideals in common with them; Liam cares for the mortal world while Gwydion must devote their attention to the fae. Yes, they may be a pale shadow of what a true house should be, but at least they have not turned to the Unseelie, and Gwydion will honor their duty to protect them on that basis alone.
On the Common Kith
Despite what the other houses say, Gwydion holds no prejudice against the common kith. Such a thing would be foolish. There are plenty of examples of how other nobles treat commoners. Is the Fiona habit of adopting commoner lovers for only so long as they prove interesting an example of proper noble treatment of a subject? If so, then those of House Gwydion are truly poor rulers, for their obligation to protect their fae subjects from all ills precludes such behavior.
- Boggans: Despite their less-than-glamorous image, boggans are truly princes among commoners. No kingdom could function without their tireless support. If their failing is that they are generally unskilled martially, it is an insignificant one. It is Gwydion's honor and duty to defend their commoner charges, and the boggans are most worthy of their protection.
- Eshu: These wanderers are worrisome to many lords, but welcomed in all courts. Frankly, they are hard for the Gwydion to understand. Gwydion guard their holdings with griffon-like ferocity and pride while the eshu know nothing of, or care little for, borders and territories. Responsibility is another hard word for the eshu. They seem to feel that their true duty is to roam as far and to hear as much as possible. If that is truly their task, then House Gwydion can accept that, but it is a hard thing for them to comprehend.
- Nockers: Nockers are a subject difficult to describe. Even their most casual epithets are difficult to forget. As a folk, though, they have several qualities that merit commending. They are honest, often venomously so. They are intelligent and can offer multiple solutions to any problem. (Not all of which prove feasible of course, and sometime explosive.) They make useful allies in warfare, although they can scarcely be depended on for fully skilled footsoldiers. As sappers, armorers, and engineers, though, they are peerless. And yet it is hard to recommend full adaptation of their arsenals, for too much of their weaponry relies on the element of surprise rather than skill. The Gwydion find themselves forced to adopt whatever nocker innovations are necessary, if for no other reason than to keep their rivals from gaining the advantage, but many of their devices have failed at the worst possible time. The nockers are a random element in battle (and in social situations, I have learned), with all the good and ill that implies.
- Pooka: The pooka present a large share of headaches to the House; their insight into truth and lies allows them to note with perfect clarity that every last word a pooka speaks is an untruth. Their responsibility to the pooka is painful at times, but they cannot ignore them simply because their innocently duplicitous prattle can grate on one after a time.
- Redcaps: House Gwydion grants the redcaps this: They are most dire and well-respected foes. And they say "foes" because the redcaps are those most frequently string back at them across the field of valor. They are unchivalrous and ferocious savages; hard to cultivate and guid. They make valiant opponents, although once the backbone of a motley is broken, they crumble a bit easily. It must be stressed that the redcaps prize inspiring terror in their enemies and victims. Indeed, fear makes quite a repast for a redcap. This is their weakness. Meet a redcap without the slightest inkling of fear, and their strength will wash away.
- Satyrs: The Gwydion keep surprisingly few (to others) satyrs in high positions amongst their retinues, compared with the courts of other houses. Again, this is not a bias on their rulers' part; it is a reflection of how discerning they are when selecting their vassals. Wilder satyrs, although often rugged and hardy yeomen, typically prove to be more distraction than asset. (Their notorious Song of Pan has no place in high court, no matter what their young does and bucks claim.) Childling satyrs have little experience and, therefore, minute wisdom to offer. Among grumps, Gwydion finds the insight particular to the kith, and satyr grumps are often inconsolably bitter... hardly boon companions. The greatest thing to be said for the satyrs is their forthrightness; rarely does a goat keep their opinions close to their chest. If their stoicism matched their honesty, the world would be gifted with a kith of utmost distinction.
- Sluagh: They are no warriors, to be sure. In fact, Gwydion prefers the sluagh who travels unarmed more than the sluagh who carries a blade, for those of this kith who learn the use of weapons are more often assassins than soldiers. The sluagh who meets your gaze without flinching, who bows but does not cringe... that is the sluagh that one should watch carefully. Either they are an assassin, or they are a creature of great merit. A loyal sluagh is a great resource, and there is many a noble who was felled because they had no one to warn them of their fate.
- Trolls: It goes without saying that the trolls above all others are nearest to Hose Gwydion's soul. They are the epitome of steadfastness and honor among the common kith; warriors almost without peer. Many trolls hold knighthoods throughout Gwydion lands. The house accords them the respect and trust that their merit is worthy of, which is considerable. Many other households look askance at the trolls, fearing that someday they might rise up as one body and attempt to claim rule once more. The Gwydion know their honor forbids such a thing, and it is precisely because of this unstained honor that they grant the trolls as much power within their holdings as they do. Note, of course, that this refers only to the Seelie trolls. Those who have bartered away their honor the Shadow Court are worthy of respect as powerful warriors and have earned not one jot more. They make formidable foes, ones that the house gladly meets with no quarter asked to given.
A Rise in Station
A commoner distinguishes themself so grandly on occasion that adoption into a noble house seems the most fitting reward. Although it is rare for the Gwydion to do so, even they welcome the truly valiant and chivalrous into their ranks, regardless of kith. But their high standards are exacting, and they do not do such a thing lightly.
Whether sidhe or no, all house members must embody the high standards of Gwydion. They will accept no cowards, blackguards, or oathbreakers in their ranks; falsehood, treachery, and pettiness are the marks of churls, not of a noble house.
Only the noblest and most stalwart may stand alongside Gwydion. The first standard excludes virtually all redcaps; the second discourages most other kith. It is true that they look favorably on trolls who have proven themselves. Gwydion is a house of warriors, and who better exemplifies the potential for valor in commoners than the trolls? Racism and sexism have little place in the House. Only the most worthy are offered the Oath of the Falcon. And if nine from ten of the are trolls, it is not because the eshu, nockers, and the rest are incapable of meeting their standards... it is simply because they have not made the grade.
Ah yes, the vampires. So much the opposite of the Gwydion and recently the subject of so much romance. Young mortals grow to adolescence these days preferring the glare of neon at night to the warm touch of the afternoon sun, or the rosy warmth of dawn. No surer sign of Winter is there than this death of spirit; this craving to be chill as death rather than warm with life.
Of course, if these misguided children knew the reality of the vampires, they would not idolize the night-dwellers so. House Gwydion has little to do with those born of bloodiest nightmare. They are of the night, and Gwydion is of the summer sun. Gwydion cares nothing for their empty mystique and they could not bear to face the house's grandeur, even if they knew the Gwydion existed.
The tales of the fae's lost Prodigal brethren and their battle with the Dark strike the heartstrings of Gwydion hearts. Who among them would not offer their life to defend their realm? Few indeed. The Garou still exist and their battles with the fomorians still rages in the wilderness and shadowed parts of the cities. They are bold and brave, great-hearted, but savage beings, of ancient wisdom and frightful temper. Their revels are joyous but hint at great sadness borne by their tribes. The kinship the Gwydion feel with them is one not felt with any mortal since the Resurgence. The House is making some overtures to gather them back into the fold, to lift from them the name of Prodigal, and to welcome the to the Dreaming once more. Most lords of the house would whole-heartedly support these endeavors, save that they make further demands on the scanty resources of Glamour in the world today. It is the right of each individual lord to decide whether or not the gains of the returned wolf-shifters would be worth the cost to their demesne.
- Blood of the Wolf: It is said that House Gwydion's ties to the wolf-changer Prodigals are stronger than shared purpose. Some such fae are living proof of that connection. Though still full-blooded changeling, they also have the blood of the werewolves in their veins, and the Garou call them kin. Although they may not think of these fae in glowing terms, the werewolf tribe whose blood they share may call on them to perform certain tasks for their Changing relatives. What's more, they may expect them to take a Garou spouse, the better to strengthen the bloodline. (This Blood of the Wolf is, in game terms, a 4 point Merit.)
The house has limited exchange with mortal wizards; the Gwydion are a far cry from the days when all magic was one. Some have offered to teach the fae, but it seems we cannot learn their ways. They are no longer tied to the Dreaming; instead, they use eldritch arts to enforce their dreams on others. They have drifted away from the category of Gwydion's "charges" and into the role of rivals. Time will tell.
The Gwydion are aware that often the ghosts of mortals linger on, unwilling to enter the gray realms of death. However, most of their lore on the wraiths is secondhand at best. They thirst for the vibrancy of life, and from the stories told, they may well envy the fae their Glamour. Why, then, do they Gwydion so rarely encounter them? Some speculate that if the energy of a fae spirit is like a beacon to the dead, then the Gwydion must be like blazing bonfires; almost painful to look upon.
It has always been the mistake of Houses Fiona and Liam to concern themselves too much with mortals. Need any be reminded that is was the mortals who broke the roads from Earth to Arcadia; the mortals who drove the fae into the furthest reaches of the wild; the mortals who smother Concordia in the miasma of Banality even today. Some accord them lenience for their ignorance; Gwydion tends to believe otherwise.
It strikes at the heart of every Gwydion fae to scrounge among the mortals for Glamour. They were some of the mightiest lords in Arcadia; now they must live as paupers, clutching at whatever motes of imagination they can find amongst humanity. This is a duty they are willing to bear, both in penance and for the sake of those who cannot leave. Until all fae can drink from the torrent of pure Dream, or all can return to Arcadia, they are bound to stay here and protect their brethren.
But such a duty nonetheless saddens many in the house, and although they laugh and love in the presence of Dreamers as readily as any fae, the average mortal is a painful reminder of how they have failed. For this reason, few lords of the Falcon encourage the enchantment of mortals.
Troubling rumors persist of the return of the fomorians. What troubles some further is that the rumors are not limited to fae circles. When sharing stories among the Prodigal Garou, when talk turns to the battle between the Tuatha de Danaan and the fomorians, many of the werewolves will take on a grim expression. They battle with fomorians even today! Though their descriptions vary, speaking of deformed shocktroopers, not powerful and clever lords, many wonder if they mean the enemies of old.
One cannot help but presume that the return of House Balor is a sign that the fomorians will be close behind. Although the other houses believe that the house of the evil eye was named in jest, it is obvious that such nobles have never dealt with the Balor. The connection is more than a casual jest. Exactly what it is, though, remains to be seen.
Conservative doesn't mean inert. Although House Gwydion seems ostensibly to be primarily interested in maintaining the status quo, it is foolish to assume that they don't want some things to change. They may conduct their business fairly openly, but as mentioned before, they are no strangers to intrigue.
- Eternal Enemies: The house is well aware that three Unseelie houses crossed over from Arcadia during the Resurgence. It's no surprise that the Gwydion feel to drive House Leanhaun, Balor, and Ailil back into the sea. They see the Unseelie houses as an obvious symptom of oncoming Winter, and believe that overthrowing the Unseelie may well be the key to precipitating Spring. The fact that Leanhaun and Balor emerged very close to Cymru may have something to do with their conviction as well.
- The Homeland Regained: Coincidently, there is a very real desire among the house to regain full control of the Gwydion homeland of Cymru, or Wales as it is called today. To think that they can no longer roam as freely over the Welsh hills as Gwydion himself once did sticks in their craw. Although few house nobles would dream of starting a war of conquest, the house has begun steps toward accumulating more power in Wales.
- Patronage: Some Gwydion nobles have suggested further cementing the house's ties with House Dougal, almost to the extent of incorporating the Dougal into themselves as a lesser house. Although the idea smacks of condescension to most Gwydion nobles, there is still a very real movement to bring Dougal and the House of the Falcon closer together, so that each might further benefit from the other's strengths. Similarly, House Gwydion's undisguised respect for the Red Branch Knights has never been in question. Many nobles have petitioned High King David to grant the house full patronage of the Red Branch. To date, David has refused, maintaining that the knightly order can do far more good without such political ties. And yet, the motion has yet to die out within the house.
- Holding the Keep: Ultimately, the prime political goal of House Gwydion doesn't concern reaching for a prize. They are already the ruling house of Concordia and hold a slim majority of power across the world. Therefore, much of Gwydion's intrigues revolve around maintaining their lands, duties, and responsibilities. The Falcon's house is loath to admit that any other house might rule as well as they do, and its members refuse to believe that any house could serve their subjects better.
Lords & Ladies of the Falcon
House Gwydion has held a majority of the government of most fae kingdoms, notably Concordia, since the Resurgence. Such a feat would be difficult to manage if the nobles of the house were not distinctive in their own right.
Many Gwydion fae are worthy of mention in more than a few tales, either as the strong-handed ruler or as the knights-errant. The following are just a few of the more famous Gwydion nobles in the world.
- Adoin Fireplait
- Berwin Lindell
- Bleiddwn Wolfson
- Calum Erskine
- David Ardry
- Dirmyg the Sharp
- Dylan ap Morgan
- Queen Elizabeta
- Fergus of Strathcruach
- Freydis Gefndottir
- Chief Greyhawk
- Guy de Cheval
- Gwydion the Grey
- Gwynn Alarch
- Harold diMarcos
- Karel Coeur de Lyon
- Karim ibn Hassan
- Kelyn Oakspear
- Kyria Vowseeker
- Lleu Ardwyad
- Margala of Dovedale
- Niall Peacemaker
- Sabrina Northrup
- Sean the Silver
- Tagamarch Ebonnails
- Tamur the Unexpected
- Tethych Arrowblood
- Tremore Halsey
- CTD. Noblesse Oblige: The Book of Houses, pp. 79-105.
- CTD. Changeling: The Dreaming Second Edition, p. 109.